Wednesday, 18 May 2011


Sticking to the world of music, today's word is mondegreen. You may have never heard or read this word before but it refers to something that you are certainly familiar with.

A mondegreen is simply a word or group of words that a person mishears in a song. (You can listen to the pronunciation of the word here).  

A famous example of a mondegreen is the title of the well-known series of travel guides, Lonely Planet. The founders of this series, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, gave their guidebooks this name after they heard the words lonely planet in a song. It was only later that they realised that the real lyrics were lovely planet.

Take a look at this hilarious Youtube video of Nelly Furtado's I'm like a bird:

And this video of Livin' la vida loca by Ricky Martin.


  1. Interesting!!! I wonder from where this word originated - Mondegreen; French?
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. I'm glad you found it interesting, Gautam.

    This word was coined by an American writer, Sylvia Wright. Here is what Wiktionary says about the origin of this word:

    "Coined by Sylvia Wright in Harper’s Magazine (The Death of Lady Mondegreen, Nov 1954) from a mishearing of a line in the Scottish ballad The Bonny Earl of Murray: "They hae slay the Earl of Murray, / And laid him on the green" (misheard as “Lady Mondegreen”)."

    So, the word 'mondegreen' is itself a mondegreen!

  3. Hello, could you please provide me the source for the Lonely Planet/Lovely Planet information? I am preparing a talk about Mondegreens and it would be a good example to give- just want to doublecheck and have a further look. Thank you!